Renunciation and Detachment
Plenty has been written about renunciation, not so much because it is hard to understand, but because its practice is truly difficult. The most important thing about renunciation is that nothing real is lost. Every renunciation of material things, of indiscriminate consumption, is an appropriation of that which is renounced on a higher level. It is a paradox, but the more a person can do without the world, the less the world can do without that person.
When desires dominate us, we are trapped in illusion and the only way out is through discernment or reflection. Try to see ourselves as automatons controlled and manipulated within a prison of unsatisfied desires. Because in effect, these are not our own desires, but rather, we are victims of a society that knows our dissatisfactions and manipulates them, creating one desire after another in a chain of desires that will produce great economic profits for a few, while it engulfs us in our own terrible personal and spiritual dissatisfaction.
Whoever loves God does not worry about the vanities of the world, because he respects himself above all else and respect for oneself implies scorn for the vanities of the world.
"No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (20)
The surfeit of desires and cravings is a source of spiritual disease. It overloads the soul. There are persons who renounce themselves and their uncontrolled cravings, albeit with reservations, since they do not place all their confidence in God. In the beginning they offer him everything, but afterwards, on being besieged by temptation, they return to their old ways, and this stops them from advancing on the road of virtue.
There are people who think that God should be given everything He is owed, provided that He lets them enjoy what is theirs without being bothered.
Their desire is to maintain their own privileges and imagine themselves free without having to obey any kind of divine mandate, given over to their own passions and desires.
"So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (21)
These are the lukewarm about whom the apostle John spoke in his Revelations. On one hand, they adore the world and its pleasures, and on the other they want to live in peace with themselves and with God, fulfilling one precept or another that adapts to their own needs and passions. They practice a social kind of religiosity;
they do not know what charity means and they comply with the minimum religious precepts, those that are socially well-regarded. Their piety plays to an audience.
Trust in God
God is the supreme goodness. He never abandons whoever trusts Him. Although the modern world, with its almost uncontrolled hyperactivity, puts obstacles and difficulties in our way to living and orienting our lives and aspirations to confidence in God, we should know that if we trust Him, everything is possible because it is not the external conditions that impede us from finding God in our lives, but our own mental state of absence of God.
"God will find a way out for those who are mindful of Him, and will provide for them from an unexpected source; God will be enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves his purposes; God has set a due measure for everything."(22)
If we do not let God into our lives, if we close our mind to the experience of God, external difficulties will grow, putting ever-increasing obstacles every day to our possible spiritual self-realization and our confidence in God, although we call ourselves believers and count ourselves among those who "officially" comply with their faith in God, but do not really trust Him.
"Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (23) On the other hand, a person who desires the fullness of God in his life above all will find his obstacles propitiating that divine fullness in his life, and these will be transformed into help received. God Himself sustains and comforts whoever accepts Him in his life with His infinite Love. "Whoever relieves in his Lord need fear no loss nor injustice." (24)
Strength in the face of suffering
Suffering is a feeling of deprivation, and, as such, may become a stimulus that helps us advance in self-knowledge. It helps us by showing our limitations, our misery and our deficiencies which, up to that time, have remained hidden amongst our illusions and pleasures.
René Guènon, associates the concept of suffering with asceticism. He speaks of the asceticism that goes by the Sanskrit name of "tapas", meaning "heat". This heat is an inner fire that must burn and destroy everything that constitutes an obstacle to man's spiritual self-realization. "Asceticism" in its deepest sense is the sacrifice of the "ego" carried out for the attainment of superior consciousness.
The Prophet Isaiah also speaks to us of this fire when he says:
"But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled!" (25) Isaiah tells us that each one of us lights the flames of our own fire when we turn our back on God: when we sin. It is our own sins that stir up the inner fire that burns us and makes us suffer.
Saint Augustine tells us that any man who wants to enter Paradise must pass through fire and water, "whether he is Peter, to whom the keys of heaven were entrusted, or Paul, the chosen vessel of God, or John, to whom the secrets of God were revealed".
If we want to know with certainty whether our sufferings are noble and come from God, we only have to see whether this suffering is an unbearable burden for us. When we suffer knowing that we are suffering for God, that suffering comes from Him for our own good, we feel relief in pain, because we feel that God shares this pain with us and comforts us with his infinite Love.
"God does not burden any soul with more that it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffer its bad" (26) o Humble of Heart
The humble man who loves God above all else knows the reality that surrounds him and accepts it without being deceived by false appearances because he recognises them; he assigns each thing a place and a priority in his heart. He has the virtue of discernment and knows full well what can separate him from God. He yearns above all else for his purification in order to achieve full closeness to Him. He knows that God is his strength and his consolation, in joy as well as in adversity.
For Saint Augustine, the summit of greatest knowledge for man is knowing that, by himself, he is nothing, and that anything whatsoever belongs to God and is for God. He tells us that it is not enough that we acknowledge that what we know and understand comes from God. In addition, we must avoid extolling ourselves above those who still do not have this knowledge, since they may yet leave us behind once they have received it.
"The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." (27) The moral pride that leads us to consider ourselves better than the rest and that constitutes a serious obstacle to spiritual self-realization must be extirpated completely from our hearts and minds.
This moral or spiritual pride is more difficult to detect in ourselves. It is only through prayer that the soul may arrive at this perception. The prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) said on a certain occasion, "whoever has pride in his heart, though it be only equivalent to a grain of rice, cannot enter Paradise."
"Give good news to the humble whose hearts fill with awe whenever God is mentioned." (28)
When man invokes the name of God in prayer, his heart trembles with emotion and, if before he felt sad, he is filled with joy; if before he was ill, he is cured; for sincere prayer makes man humble and brings him closer to the contemplation of God. o Illumination "God guides whoever He will to his Light". (29)
Illumination means dispelling the darkness of ignorance. The true self obscured by false habits of thinking and desires, is suddenly revealed. Nothing in the life of this person can be the same anymore. The illuminated person begins to live by the knowledge he acquires. "The wind blows where it choose, and you hear the sound of it, but you don't know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (30)
Illumination comes from God, it is a gift of God. It never has a human motive. Illumination, as St. John tells us, is like the wind that blows and goes where it pleases. Thus is divine light.
The Sufi masters tell us that the disciple, although an initiate, cannot do anything without the light that comes from God Himself, and that the spiritual states of illumination can never be the product of any human technique of meditation, concentration or the like. "The Spirit is part of my Lord´s domaine. You have only been given a little knowledge." (31)
This does not mean that man does not play an important part in the process of illumination. Of course he does, and that is, to eliminate all the obstacles that he finds in his life that are impeding him from desiring and achieving that divine illumination.
Those obstacles are, on one hand, his personal ego, which includes ambition for power, social recognition, the love of money and the luxury that money provides, living in a constant bid for social climbing, even at the expense of others; and, on another hand, indifference to the needs of those who are dependent upon him, whether economically,
personally or emotionally, owing to the drive to fulfil himself professionally and socially. Indifference for the problems of one's community, one's local social surroundings, and - of course - indifference for the problems of the world. These are the obstacles that impede the attainment of God in one's life, the obstacles to illumination.
"Believers, turn to God in sincere repentance. Your Lord my well cancel your bad deeds for you and admit you into Gardens graced with flowing streams," (32)
God nourishes the desire to communicate with Him in the human heart and opens the doors to reflection and repentance through His call, so as to change and open the heart to divine illumination. Nonetheless, it is man himself who will respond to that call through the use of his free will. He will make the decision to live as he has been doing up to that moment, or listen to the call of God and turn to Him.
"Listen! I am standing at the door knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you." (33) III. The convergence of world religions towards "The Time of Appearance", will require:
o The elimination of all kind of religious intolerance or belief worldwide.
The implementation of the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religions or Belief is far from being a reality.
"Governments should redouble their efforts to uphold the provisions in their everyday work".The United Nations Special Representative considers that the principles contained in the 1981 Declaration need to be further disseminated among lawmakers, judges and civil servants. It is of the utmost importance to promote ideal of tolerance and understanding through education.
There is an urgent need to eliminate the roots causes of intolerance and discrimination and to remain vigilant with regard to freedom of religion or belief worldwide. Most of the situations of religious intolerance stem either from ignorance and from misleading information. Education, then, is a crucial issue for promoting religious harmony in the world.
Religious controversies are historical. They will continue to demand the international community attention and challenge societies to find creative ways of dealing with it. There are no classic or tested recipes for resolving such sensitive issues. In this regard, a continuing dialogue at all level is o To work for peace and reconciliation between all nations of the world.
Work hard to prepare the ground for a just lasting peace all over the world based on mutual respect and understanding through dialogue. Dedicate our efforts to solve our of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the highest spiritual principles of love and justice. To ensure that globalization, as a real challenge of today´s society, becomes a positive force for all the world´s people. At present its benefits and very unevenly shared.
To create a shared future, a peaceful future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity. This shared future principles are:
Freedom: Man and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger, free from fear of violence, oppression or injustice.
Equality: Every person and nation has the right to have the opportunity to benefit from development. Solidarity: Global changes must be managed in a way that its benefits should be distributed according with basic principles of equity and social justice.
Tolerance: Human beings must respect one other, in all their diversity, religion or belief, culture, race, and knowledge. Respect for nature: Prudence in the management of all living species and natural resources.
Shared responsibility: For managing worldwide economic and social development. All threats to international peace and security, must be shared among the nations of the world and should be exercised multilaterally.
o To educate the human communities in every part of the world with values of tolerance and mutual understanding.
"The World Conference on Human Rights considers human rights education, training and public information essential for the promotion and achievement of stable and harmonious relations among communities and for fostering mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.
Education, as agreed by the international community, can be defined as training and information aimed at building a universal culture through the sharing of knowledge directed to:
-The full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity. -The promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations. -The building and maintenance of peace -The promotion of people-centred sustainable development social justice all over the world.
A comprehensive education provides knowledge about the mechanisms that protect daily life and at the same time fosters the attitudes and behaviours needed to uphold rights for all members of society.
o A strong compromise from our States, national Governments and international Institutions towards justice and peace. The world has become more globalize and the interaction between international actors is more rapid, so there are new challenges to be faced. The benefits and burdens of this globalization are not evenly distributed. The world needs a fairer distribution of the benefits. The duty of solidarity is an imperative prerequisite of globalization.
o International solidarity need to be more developed in international relations for the sake of humanity Global responses to natural disasters, pandemic disease, such as avian influenza and agricultural pest, with the intention of supporting efforts on poverty eradication and fighting hunger, are tangible issues, which profoundly affect human life and need more "Surely Allah will raise for this community at the beginning of every century one who shall revive for it its faith." (34)